Teen Driving Safety – What Teens and Parents Should Know
The anxiety-inducing first drives, hours of practice in the city and on the highway, studying for the written test, and parking practice in empty school parking lots… sound familiar? Parenting a teen through learning to drive is not for the faint of heart, and we applaud every parent, guardian, and patient adult who is a part of the process. Today, our team shares the information every family should know about as they begin their teen driving journey.
As trusted car accident attorneys in Oklahoma City, we’ve seen cases of all kinds, and we can help families try to keep teen drivers safe.
Talk About Driving Safety With Your Teen
Your worry is probably heightened as a parent or guardian of a new or learning driver. Often, it’s not your teen that makes you nervous; it’s the hazards of the road paired with their inexperience. The first step in ensuring safety for your teen is discussing driving safety early and regularly. Whether your child is already licensed or they do not yet have a permit, start the safety conversation now. Additionally, the best way to teach safety is by practicing safe driving all the time.
Below are a few talking points you can share with your new driver to start the conversation. While you might think some of them are silly or obvious because you are an experienced driver, sharing might help your inexperienced driver avoid a car accident in the future. When you see something unsafe while driving, that’s a perfect opportunity to share a tip or two.
Teen Driving Safety Facts and Conversation Starters
- Start a conversation with your teen when you approach challenging or uncommon situations on the road. For example, if you see a school bus stopped with its sign extended, approaching a four-way stop sign intersection, etiquette for a funeral procession, how to safely pass a bicycle, and many others.
- Nighttime driving is riskier than daytime driving for all drivers, but especially for teens. Consider sharing this information with your teen and discuss ways to minimize nighttime driving together, at least during their first couple of years of driving.
- If your teenager is taking a driver’s education course outside your home, either at school or through a local business, ask them what they are learning.
- Talk about what to do when an animal or obstacle is in the roadway.
- Tell your teen about accidents or driving incidents you’ve been involved in and what you learned from the situations. Sometimes, hearing from a parent about mistakes opens the door for questions and discussion later.
- Discuss the responsibility of driving because of the risks involved. The CDC reports that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens.
- Chat with your teen about driving distractions other than phones, such as driving while emotional, sick, tired, or other potentially risky situations.
- Encourage your teen to consider the importance of following driving laws and the impact an accident could have. It is reported that the fatal crash rate per mile driven for 16-19-year-olds is nearly three times the rate for drivers ages 20 and over. Risk is highest at ages 16-17.
Driver Safety Tips for Teens
Your new driver is probably learning an impressive amount of information each day. Between high school classes and driver’s education, their brains are probably overflowing with new ideas and facts. While it’s easy to forget information, reminding yourself and the new driver in your family of basic driving safety tips is the wisest way to ensure it sticks.
Here are a few driver safety tips from our Oklahoma City-based team of experienced car accident attorneys, specifically for teens.
- Every person in the car should wear a seatbelt.
- Know the speed limit and follow it. Challenge yourself to memorize the speed limit on all the roads you frequently use.
- Do not drink alcohol of any kind or use drugs, not only illegal drugs but also do not use any prescription medications that would make you drowsy, or impair your driving ability, before driving. Impaired driving is dangerous for all people on the road, especially for inexperienced drivers.
- Have a plan to eliminate distractions. Commit to leaving your phone in the back or passenger’s seat or turn off notifications while driving. Whether it’s a text message or a call, resist the urge to respond while driving. Believe it or not, sometimes drivers will see something while on the road that they want to video tape or snap a picture of and do so without thinking of the hazard they are creating. Just don’t do it.
- Make a route before you begin driving. If you need to use a GPS on your phone or the car navigation system, set it up before you start driving.
- Familiarize yourself with the vehicle. Young drivers may share cars with other family members, so take a minute to learn where the signals, lights, and additional safety or operation features are located each time you get into a car. Take the time to adjust your mirrors and your seat for you each time you drive..
Tips for Parents and Guardians of Teenage Drivers
Parents are the most significant influence on new drivers. Your guidance, advice, patience, and help make a difference in preventing car accidents for your teen. Oklahoma has a few dangerous highways and intersections, but with your help, your teen driver will know what to do.
Here are a few tips for parents of new drivers:
- Driving Agreement – Consider writing a household driving agreement for you and your teen to sign. The CDC, AAA, and other organizations have helpful resources to help formalize expectations and limits for teen drivers.
- Limit the Number of Passengers – Oklahoma laws require drivers with an intermediate license to drive with limited numbers of passengers. Still, it may be wise to further restrict the number of passengers during the first years of driving.
- Be A Good Example – If your teen doesn’t observe you driving safely, it will impact their behavior on the road. Keep distractions away, wear your seatbelt, use appropriate signals, and drive at a safe speed. If you don’t, they won’t.
- Ride With Your Teen, Even After They Get Their License – The greatest challenge for young drivers is simply their inexperience. You should still ride with them as they drive, even after they are licensed. Practice with them in different types of weather, on unfamiliar roads, and during different times of the day. Your feedback, gentle correction, and encouragement will improve their driving skills.
Oklahoma Drivers License and Learners Permit Laws
In Oklahoma, drivers have different restrictions based on age and license type. For teens in Oklahoma, the established restrictions aim to ensure the driver’s and others’ safety on the road. The Oklahoma Graduated Drivers License program includes four parts:
- Student Driver (No License) – at least age 15 – teens can drive with a state-certified driving instructor.
- Learner Permit – at least age 15 and ½ – Teens with a permit can drive between 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. while accompanied by a licensed driver at least 21 years old.
- Intermediate License – at least age 16 – Teens with an intermediate license can drive with restricted driving privileges, including hours allowed and the number of passengers.
- Unrestricted License – at least age 16 and ½ – Teens can have an unrestricted license after six months of driving with the intermediate license.
One important note for families of teen drivers is that the driver must have no traffic convictions on their driving record for the six months immediately preceding the issuance of the unrestricted license. If a teen driver has a traffic violation during their first six months, they will not graduate to an unrestricted license.
What Teen Drivers Should Know About Car Accidents
Despite all precautions, accidents can still occur. Preparing your teen practically and emotionally for this possibility is essential. Mistakes happen. It might be helpful to your teen to make a glovebox checklist for the steps to take after an accident.
Your after-accident checklist might include:
- Check for injuries
- Call 911
- Exchange insurance information
- Take photos of the damage
Our team has a helpful article that outlines everything you need to know after a car accident in Oklahoma which may give you a few more ideas to equip your new driver. Car accidents can be frustrating and life-changing, but they can be more easily navigated with some preparation.
If you or a family member is the victim of a car accident and have suffered injuries, please contact our team today for a free consultation with our knowledgeable Oklahoma car accident lawyers. We are an experienced team who can provide the legal guidance your family may need after an accident.
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